The Lion, the Tiger, and the Traveller

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Fable I

Accept, young Prince, the moral lay
And in these tales mankind survey;
With early virtues plant your breast,
The specious arts of vice detest.
   Princes, like beauties, from their youth
Are strangers to the voice of truth;
Learn to contemn all praise betimes;
For flattery's the nurse of crimes;
Friendship by sweet reproof is shown,
(A virtue never near a throne);

In courts such freedom must offend,
There none presumes to be a friend.
To those of your exalted station
Each courtier is a dedication.
Must I too flatter like the rest,
And turn my morals to a jest?
The Muse disdains to steal from those
Who thrive in courts by fulsome prose.
   But shall I hide your real praise,
Or tell you what a nation says?

They in your infant bosom trace
The virtues of your royal race;
In the fair dawning of your mind
Discern you generous, mild, and kind;
They see you grieve to hear distress,
And pant already to redress.
Go on, the height of good attain,
Nor let a nation hope in vain.
For hence we justly may presage
The virtues of a riper age.

True courage shall your bosom fire,
And future actions own you sire.
Cowards are cruel, but the brave
Love mercy, and delight to save.
   A tiger roaming for his prey,
Sprung on a traveller in the way;
The prostrate game a lion spies,
And on the greedy tyrant flies;
With mingled roar resounds the wood,
Their teeth, their claws distil with blood;

Till vanquished by the lion's strength,
The spotted foe extends his length.
The man besought the shaggy lord,
And on his knees for life implored.
His life the generous hero gave,
Together walking to his cave,
The lion thus bespoke his guest:
   'What hardy beast shall dare contest
My matchless strength! you saw the fight,
And must attest my power and right.

Forced to forego their native home,
My starving slaves at distance roam.
Within these woods I reign alone,
The boundless forest is my own.
Bears, wolves, and all the savage brood,
Have dyed the regal den with blood.
These carcases on either hand,
Those bones that whiten all the land,
My former deeds and triumphs tell,
Beneath these jaws what numbers fell.'

   'True,' says the man, 'the strength I saw
Might well the brutal nation awe:
But shall a monarch, brave like you,
Place glory in so false a view?
Robbers invade their neighbours' right,
Be loved: let justice bound your might.
Mean are ambitious heroes' boasts
Of wasted lands and slaughtered hosts.
Pirates their power by murders gain,
Wise kings by love and mercy reign.

To me your clemency hath shown
The virtue worthy of a throne.
Heaven gives you power above the rest,
Like Heaven to succour the distress'd.'
   'The case is plain,' the monarch said;
'False glory hath my youth misled;
For beasts of prey, a servile train,
Have been the flatterers of my reign.
You reason well: yet tell me, friend,
Did ever you in courts attend?

For all my fawning rogues agree,
That human heroes rule like me.'

The Fables, Volume 1 (1727)
Introduction The Shepard and the Philosopher
Fable I The Lion, the Tiger, and the Traveller
Fable II The Spaniel and the Cameleon
Fable III The Mother, the Nurse, and the Fairy
Fable IV The Eagle, and the Assembly of Animals
Fable V The wild Boar and the Ram
Fable VI The Miser and Plutus
Fable VII The Lion, the Fox, and the Geese
Fable VIII The Lady and the Wasp
Fable IX The Bull and the Mastiff
Fable X The Elephant and the Bookseller
Fable XI The Peacock, the Turkey, and the Goose
Fable XII Cupid, Hymen, and Plutus
Fable XIII The Tame Stag
Fable XIV The Monkey who had seen the World
Fable XV The Philosopher and the Pheasants
Fable XVI The Pin and the Needle
Fable XVII The Shepherd's Dog and the Wolf
Fable XVIII The Painter who pleased Nobody and Everybody
Fable XIX The Lion and the Cub
Fable XX The Old Hen and the Cock
Fable XXI The Rat-catcher and Cats
Fable XXII The Goat without a Beard
Fable XXIII The Old Woman and her Cats
Fable XXIV The Butterfly and the Snail
Fable XXV The Scold and the Parrot
Fable XXVI The Cur and the Mastiff
Fable XXVII The Sick Man and the Angel
Fable XXVIII The Persian, the Sun, and the Cloud
Fable XXIX The Fox at the point of Death
Fable XXX The Setting-dog and the Partridge
Fable XXXI The Universal Apparition
Fable XXXII The Two Owls and the Sparrow
Fable XXXIII The Courtier and Proteus
Fable XXXIV The Mastiffs
Fable XXXV The Barley-mow and the Dunghill
Fable XXXVI Pythagoras and the Countryman
Fable XXXVII The Farmer's Wife and the Raven
Fable XXXVIII The Turkey and the Ant
Fable XXXIX The Father and Jupiter
Fable XL The Two Monkeys
Fable XLI The Owl and the Farmer
Fable XLII The Jugglers
Fable XLIII The Council of Horses
Fable XLIV The Hound and the Huntsman
Fable XLV The Poet and the Rose
Fable XLVI The Cur, the Horse, and the Shepherd's Dog
Fable XLVII The Court of Death
Fable XLVIII The Gardener and the Hog
Fable XLIX The Man and the Flea
Fable L The Hare and many Friends

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